Let’s make this different

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Being in the world witnessing all the stages of a human being has got to be one of the most amazing gifts life on this planet could ever provide. And here I am gifted two amazing souls to stand side by side with full time. In our world this journey of parenting is so rarely celebrated as the gift that it is. You can search the internet and find more articles about the “challenges” of parenting that you can the celebration of it. There are more people discussing the “terrible two’s and horrible teenagers” than there are parents waxing poetic about the opportunity to hold space for a sad child or provide safe boundaries for an emerging adult. And most tragically you can find a whole lot of posts on social media of parents shaming and blaming their children for the simple act of being a human who makes mistakes in the world. Cause come on that is all this big ole human journey is about right? Trial and error.  Wouldn’t you rather be the cheerleader in the story of your child’s life than the villain?

So, let’s here today decide to throw about stories that celebrate the gift of being a parent. That speak of the challenges we encounter, while navigating the world with them, as they are, a chance to conquer some of our own issues in order to support our children.  Let’s share the unique beings  our children are with a sense of pride. Let’s talk about ways to support each other in being our children’s allies instead of their enemies. Let’s hold them up when they make mistakes instead of tearing them down. Let’s decide they are as human as you and I and deserve the very same level of respect we give our other loved ones. Let’s replace shame with quiet moments heart to heart uncovering one another’s strengths. Let’s decide love comes without conditions and give it away to each child until their buckets run over. Let’s, right now, here today, choose to honor, children as the precious resource prepping to sustain our future,
that they truly are.

Future peeking

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When it comes to this job of parenting, I so know the importance of being present. Being present in the hey I see you and hear you way. But also being present in the oh my goodness time is passing so quickly where did my babies go way. There are however times when I see value in peeking just a little bit into the future.

Olympic hockey has taken over in our household, for three out of the four of us anyway. The games are on earlier then my son would wake on his own. He has asked to be woken up each morning the Canadian team has been playing. Since he was born I always applied the “never wake a sleeping baby” rule cause bodies know best when they are tired and ready to be awake. As he so wisely explained though ” umm mom we are hockey fans and we need to support our country.”

Now with the gold cup game on the horizon at 4:00 am, I am looking to the future. The future story about all of us waking up  or staying up until 4:00 am to watch a hockey game together. Perhaps the results of the game will make their way into the story, mostly though it will be a story of that time when.

It can be easy to get caught in the details of living together. The routines that hold it all in place. The systems that make it possible to keep the flow moving throughout the house. This though is also where I think it most important to take that sneak peek into the future. Where I can glimpse my children recounting their childhoods to their children, or friends or heck just back to us as their aging parents. And I imagine what I want to hear replayed.

No one is going to be going on about how well I washed the dishes, or how many loads of laundry I picked up off of every floor in the house. Or heck even how much they slept or ate in the passing days. They will be recounting the moments that stood out. The journeys we went on. The times they were supported and surrounded with happiness. None of that rolls out of rules and punishment. The magic making of a childhood rolls out of the ordinary moments made extraordinary by the YES that surrounds them. And from the little extra bits of comfort that show up when the heart breaking, that is inevitable, unfolds.

In these future peeking moments, I am reminded that this journey of living alongside childhoods is setting a future. A future of stories handed from person to person. That tell the tales of how they came to be the adults they are. And my role, is to be the constant yes saying, laugh making, tear catching, soft landing, arms wide open, joy seeing, behind the scenes, I got your back character.

I really like my children

 

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It’s true, I think my kids are super awesome. I enjoy hanging out with them. They make me laugh. They make me think. They make me smile. And they have some super cool ideas on how we should spend our time together. Whether it’s an invitation for cuddle time or a game, I really like hanging out with my kids. I know I said that already but it’s worth repeating.

Recently, in the locker room, there were moms talking. “Oh right it’s along weekend, now I know why I agreed to work an extra day.” There was a lot of laughter. Sighs of what to do with this extra day of having this annoying human beings around them.  I was the odd ball, “My kids never go to school. We have fun together.” As has been my style in the past, I ended that conversation.

The other, walking in to play at the SAP Pavilion last night (for clarity that’s the big NHL rink where the San Jose sharks play) a parent says to me, “were you as surprised by this as we were?”

Me: “I know isn’t this awesome. It’s not everyday you get to play hockey on the same ice as the big leaguers.”

Him: “Ya but getting notice on a Wednesday morning about something on Friday.”

Me: “Well we were so excited at the chance that clearing the schedule was super easy.”

The conversation once again ended. Cause I wasn’t about to start complaining about the inconvenience my child’s passion and happy making events were on my life.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not purporting to be a saint of any sort. I have my moments of irritation and a close group of friends I trust to help me work through overwhelm from time to time. But when it comes to this overall attitude that children are a nuisance, troublesome and hard to be around, I’m simply not going to play that game.

I believe if parents could adjust their attitude they might find their children fun to hang out with. Carrying in to any situation this black cloud of, you again how dare you impose upon my time or emotional state, is bound to bring exactly what you ask for. Turing inward and finding that loving place in your heart (you know the one that would kick the ass of anyone who tried to hurt your child) and throwing that down in each interaction,  just might find parents asking for an extra day off in order to hang out with the amazing human being they are raising.

His Christmas Miracle

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My youngest son always eats his entire advent calendar on the very first day of December. He’s working on impulse control. This year he made a promise to himself that he would not do that. He would eat just one a day until the eve of Christmas. This means each morning I tuck the calendar in to place he can not reach, at his request.

Today he took out his chocolate and then looked at me and said “why is the 23rd gone?” I did not know why. I tossed some ideas about. He melted in to a pile of despair. In his eyes he had failed. My solutions were weak in the face of his upset. So I rubbed his back. I listened to his tears.

His brother asked me “what happened?” and I explained. Our day carried on until the youngest called out “Mom!” in that way that means drop everything and come here. “Did you put a chocolate in the 23rd?” I had not. He asked in the way that means if you did and are thinking of lying about it do not lie to me. I was not lying. I had not filled the missing chocolate.

He looked to his brother on the bed near by “mine 23rd is still closed” is all he said, while catching my eye at the side with a subtle explanation.

“It’s a Christmas miracle.” my youngest called out. Yes indeed it is a Christmas miracle, these little acts of a generous spirit are indeed the miracles.

A heart breaking

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His heart has fallen
shattered actually
Right outside of his own body
I see it in the countless tears
streaming from him
I know it in the arms that need to wrap me up
he is feeling in a bigger way
and the weight is just too much for his heart
it has broken in to countless pieces.
Right there on the bed between us.
I want to grab the glue
put it all back together
I am mom, I long to fix it.
Deeper inside I know a different truth
this journey belongs to him alone
And I must simply bare witness
hold the space between us with unwavering love
Listen to the tears hit the tissue
gather the guttural cries in to arms of compassion
Watch him spill out again and again
Each sob pulling back in one small piece
as he of this new born courage
Mends his own broken heart.

Oh they are good ..

Yesterday my eight year old called to me “Mom can we go to the pool?”

I answered ” Ya at some point today.”

He said “why not now?”

And I screamed like a 3 year old mid tantrum “cause I don’t wanna!”

Then I sat in my slumped down grump and saw all the negativity pouring from my attitude. I could trace it back to a whole collection of reasons as to why I had the right to be in a piss poor mood. But I could not even for the briefest of seconds justify tossing my piss poor mood on to my eight year old who simply wanted to go swimming. Which involved nothing more then a 2 minute walk out the front door.

So I gathered my pouting self up from my bed. Put on my suit, entered the living room “okay dude let’s do this.”

It’s not big surprise, in hindsight, that my mood was elevated. Really more then elevated it did a complete 180 and turned in a completely new direction. We jumped in the chilly pool and were surprised by the temperature change. We hit the hot tub. Got hot, jumped back in the pool and repeated. Cold, hot, cold hot .. not that different from my mood.

So often my children’s ability to be in the right now moment is all that I need to heal my own misplaced happiness. He reminded me how much there was to jump up and down about even under the weight of life’s challenges. Sometimes that which I am resisting the most is exactly what I need. Thankfully my children are walking free alongside me constantly pulling, tugging and dragging my resisting ass up in to the magic of the awesome that awaits me.

Bubble Butt

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My son waited all day to head to the mall to indulge in his favorite teriyaki chicken with udon noodles. He had his own money and was going to purchase two servings. One for now and one for later. He let himself get very hungry because it was so worth it. We hit the mall and were transported in to the twilight zone. Where once their stood 20 plus food venders there were only 5. New walls were put up, floors space was missing and we were confused. Sadly, the favorite spot was missing. We took a look at the other restaurants but nothing came close to what he had been craving for all day long.

We left the mall in search of something that would satiate his hunger. On route to check out the Happi House, apparently specializing in teriyaki, we ran in to Major Lazer’s new song Bubble Butt (if you choose to track down this song, I recommend AVOIDING youtube, that’s an image that’s gonna take a while to erase from my mind).  Here I saw how much my boy had changed and grown and how very thankful I was to have been present along the way. The song had us both in hysterics. My son saying, “This song can’t make it big. I don’t wanna hear it on the radio all the time.”

Before now the lyrics of his favorite songs were just words to be repeated when he like the beat. He would sing along blissfully unaware of much of what was being said. But now at 11 he is starting to really “hear” what the songs are saying. And ask “did he really just say ________ .”  It struck me that I am now traveling the earth with someone who is much closer to adult then to child.  We discuss sex, birth control, drugs and much else that is brought up through the music. We talk about hopes and dreams and times when he will live away from me. And it’s not in a far off way, it is in a very practical when I bump in to that part of my life way. And I can not say enough how very much I treasure this.

I have appreciated all the phases of living with him. The baby, toddler, young child years have all been delicious. But someone how I am starting to believe that this phase that is here and stretching forward, is the icing on the cake. The way in which he shares with me about the world, about his curiosities, about his future hopes is showing me a window in to the man he is becoming. The way we can openly discuss his thoughts on big issues, his observations of the world around me give me a peek in to the soul that is so uniquely his. And it is in all of this that I want to drop to my knees in overwhelming gratitude for each moment I have been present to really hear him. To create the sort of relationship that makes him want me in his life, as both mother and friend.

Years of working to maintain a connected relationship have given me a chance to sit beside my son as one of his most trusted confidants. To be a person he wants to try new thoughts and ideas out on. A safe space for him to question the big stuff with, to toss ideas back and forth, to dream and ponder with. Sitting there beside him in the car, figuring our way through the innuendos of bubble butt, I knew this was what I had hoped for from the moment I met this amazing human being. To forever be by his side to witness just exactly who he is. To have a relationship built on mutual respect and unconditional love. He will one day fly away from the nest but this foundation is what will keep us forever close in a heart space sort of way.

So today I am once again slapped in the face with a humbling sense of gratitude for the choice I made to stay home with my boys, for all these years, living, learning and loving side by side.

 

As a foot note to this piece I can’t help but share that we did not end up buying food at any restaurant. We ended up at the grocery store where I watched my eleven year old price out food while considering the nutritional value as much as his hunger needs. While telling me a story of how he had unclogged the toilet the other day with the plunger on his own. When I said “hey why didn’t you get dad or I to help you. ” He looked at me and said “Mom, when I live on my own I am going to need to know how to use a plunger.” Attachment parenting does not rob a child of their independence it invites a parent in to witness it naturally unfolding.

All that stuff

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We are moving. Which for me always translates to a giant purging of items. I am not one to hold on too much stuff. In fact when I moved to Tokyo way back when I gave away all of my possessions. Moving in with my husband all I needed was a van and that was simply to move my bed. Other then that I could have done with a few trips in my car. A little over ten years later and we have so much stuff. I love me a good purge and moving is the time I can generally convince the men folk to let go of a few things.

I also love Freecycle. Cause folks get all excited about the stuff I don’t want and race to pick it up from my front porch. It’s gone in under 24 hours and all I have to do it is send an email and put it outside. This brings me great satisfaction.

What I wasn’t expecting this time was to literally see my boys childhood being carried away. I was happy that these treasures were off to a new home. But what was beside that was the very real realization that a phase in our lives together had moved along as well.

Boxes of dress up clothing was pared down to just a few favorites. Collectibles that we needed to have every last one of where no longer of any value. Toys, that were used to explore, imagine and create with were walking away. And as I stood at my kitchen window seeing it all out there on the porch it swept over me that my boys are not little anymore. They are stretching in to a new place, that requires different tools. There is an ending on the heals of their new beginnings and it worth capturing this moment of noticing.

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I wish for every person who is a parent to know that every moment with your child is so very fleeting. I know I am guilty of wishing some of it away. The sleepless nights, the demands of a toddler, the repetition of daily living with two young needy boys. But in the moment when I saw those toys being carried off to new homes I knew I would do it all over in heart beat. I was wishing for those moments back.

What I take from this is the very real reminder that living together with my children, is a small chapter in my life and one I will for all my tomorrows recall as the richest. This is why I know I am blessed to be able to stay home with them. To capture as many of these moments as I can up in to my memory. They will fill me when my nest is empty. This is why I play with my children and let the dishes pile up in the kitchen. Cause I will have many years of a clean house when their bedrooms are empty. And this is why I put my relationship with them above all else because that is what will keep us close when distance separates us.

A boy and his bear

He was only two years old the first time we went to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. We walked up to the enclosure and there was a black bear who had been born in captivity. He was poking his head out from the tunnel. Then he moved about. My youngest son was captivated.  I thought it to be just that up close first encounter with such a marvelous usually wild animal.

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On the car ride home he began to refer to him as “my bear.” Then next day he asked “I go see my bear today?” We were leaving town and could not go see his bear again that day. I thought this might fade away. It did not. Instead he began to tell others about his bear. He even shared that this bear was his best friend. He talked about him near daily.

Next when we visited my parents we had to stop by again and see his bear. There he was again walking about, showing us his self. My son spoke to him as he would any other friend he had been missing. We left with the bear in his heart. On that trip we learned the bears name was Knut. This was satisfying to him, to have a name for his dearest friend.

When we moved to town we got a family pass so that would could visit Knut as regularly as this young boy needed to. On our third or fourth visit a man beside us exclaimed “I have never seen the bear out before.” Which surprised me. We had never missed seeing the bear. My son would stand near the enclosure and say “Hello Knut it’s me your friend.” And even if he did not fully emerge from his tunnel he would at the very least stick his nose out in to the air to my son’s delight.

I though as age pulled my son forward in his understanding of the world, that his connection might fall away. I had mistakenly thought it to be born from the imagination of childhood. We left the small city and moved far far away from this bear. This changed nothing.

There are close to ten bears in his collection and they are all named Knut. They travel with him, snuggle with him, they are his companions. Each time we visit the small city where Knut lives, we return to visit. My son’s enthusiasm has grown. If anything I would say the connection is stronger.

Our most recent visit was tender beyond words that could accurately capture it. There is a video that has always played in the interactive section at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. We have often caught moments of it. This time we sat through the entire movie. His attention for details had caught up to the complexity of the film. He watched, in fascination, the rescues and recoveries, irritated by the noise others made behind him. Drinking in all the details passing before him. Waiting patiently for moments that would show his bear, his friend.

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We stood by his enclosure. Knut did not emerge. There was a large group of children there. They were loud and my son figured perhaps stopping his friend from wanting to show himself. We went to leave. For the first time with out a viewing of the bear. I saw in him some conflict. So I suggested “shall we take on more look?” Without words he returned to Knut.

I was the one who saw the paw emerge and move in only what I could call a wave. My son was caught in a a sneeze and missed it. My word was not enough. He crumbled in to my arms in sobs of heart pain. He could not imagine leaving without a sign without a visual, without this connection renewed. We stood and we waited. He knew his brother was ready to leave. Coming back later wasn’t an option. He stood. He watched and waited. We went inside and inquired about feeding time and returning later in the day. It was true we could, with our receipt, come back at days end. This was an option but not enough. We returned one last time and held his stance.  “Do you see that white bit mom?”

“I do.”

“I think that’s one of his claws. Oh, I saw him move. He’s moving mom. I saw him.”

Exhale. It was what he needed to feel okay with leaving once again.

This bear is a friend who has silently witnessed all the growing, changing, embracing my son has done throughout the larger portion of his life. He has been carried in his heart from place to place. He has been a grounding force when the world got bumpy. He has been something to hold on to. This reminds me of the strength of friendship and the importance of believing in your hearts song.

I often worry that with moving as we have my boys miss out on having a sense of stability. Yet, when I breath in their experience, I see as this bear shows, that stability comes not in location but in relationship.

See Me As I Am

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See Me As I Am

.. A gift really not everyone get’s to have me, this one unique human requiring only your love

.. Separate from you, yes in most cases I came through you but I am my own self. Full of my own desires, thoughts and opinions. Wanting to stretch and explore beside you but not as you.

.. Impressionable. Your words land on me and inform me about myself. They tell me what I might not know yet and could forever change how I view me. It matters what you say to me, it will inform much of what I know, in the beginning. So choose kindly.

.. Unconditional love. I give it freely, to you, from the beginning, let’s work to keep it just like that until the end.

.. Tender and strong at the very same time. I take your words and actions in to my tender self and feel them strongly. Remember this when deciding how to speak and be with me.

.. Breakable. My spirit is a strong but like my bones when twisted, harshly, it can break. Hold me kindly with love.

.. A Dreamer. And right now I know I can be all that I dream. Come along and believe in me.

.. A reminder, of your unique, separate, impressionable, unconditional loving, tender, strong, breakable, dreamer self.